Monday Quick Tip ~ Stand for Something

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A new week brings new opportunities to put our leadership values into practice.  Assuming, of course, that we are crystal clear about what we value.

A quote from The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working by Tony Schwartz, Jean Gomes and Catherine McCarthy that resonates with us is, “A clearly defined sense of purpose ties our values to concrete intentions and gives us external direction – a reason to get up in the morning and a fuel to stay the course in the face of the inevitable setbacks that arise along the way” (Page 238).

Or if you prefer, “Stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.”

I’ve discovered that leadership has a way of forcing us to clarify what we believe and then requires us to take a stand on those beliefs.

Sometimes our purpose gets fuzzy because we’re under the stress of a looming deadline, busy with the day to day grind or emotionally distracted by things happening in our relationships. That’s when it is important to step back to think about why we are doing what we are doing.

Our bias for action as leaders calls us to push ahead in spite of the lack of clarity, but the wise move is to stop, step back and reflect.

Once we are clear about the PERSON we want to be and the PURPOSE we want to serve, nothing can defeat us unless we let it. We won’t fall for anything.

What really matters to you today? This week? What are you really trying to accomplish?

When we get those things straight, we have the spiritual fuel we need to make it happen!

I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments.

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Monday Quick Tip – Count the Cost of Your Life

Image courtesy of digidreamgrafix/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of digidreamgrafix/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Every man is his own greatest enemy, and as it were his own executioner. — Sir Thomas Browne

It all came together this week during my daily commute along a fast and busy highway.  One of those rare moments when the “university on wheels” curriculum matched what was going on outside of the car.  I was listening to Tony Schwartz and Jean Gomes’ book, The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working.  They posed a question that grabbed me and caused me to turn off the sound so I could reflect on it.  The question was, “Is the life you’re leading worth the price you’re paying to live it?” (The question is on page 26 in the printed version.)

As I traveled in the “slow lane” I noticed cars moving past on my left at high rates of speed. Then I saw a highway patrol officer in front of me, lights flashing.  The fast moving cars were about to pay a price for their excessive speed.  I silently wondered, “Is the price of a ticket and the hassle of getting it taken care of it worth a few minutes gained?”

As leaders, we want our team members and the people we lead to be healthy so that they can give their best energy for the good of the team.  Our followers require the same of us. They want leaders who are healthy and practice good self-care.  Rare is the person who will follow an unfit and unhealthy leader.

At the beginning of a new week, it is good to count the cost of the choices we are making.  Are we taking care of ourselves so that we can offer our best to the people we lead? Do we have time built into our day to simply enjoy ourselves?

Excessive speed will cost us.  Eventually we will slow down.

Can we do it before someone makes us and we have to pay a high price for it?

Monday Quick Tip ~ Take Down Your Worst Enemy

Image courtesy of Gualberto107/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Gualberto107/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We have met the enemy and he is us. – Pogo, comic book character

In a recent post I talked about “stinking thinking” that we can fall prey to in our role as leaders.  (Read it here.)  The same phenomenon also happens in our self-leadership.  Self-doubt can grip us in its scaly tentacles and we find it hard to break free.

When I find myself in this state, I know it is time for me to check out “the view from someone outside my head.”  It’s like staying inside the same house all the time.  Our view becomes only what we see from that limited perspective.  Soon we believe that is reality, but in fact it is only our perception.

The voice of self-doubt shouts to us to err on the side of safety. It says:

  • You can’t
  • You shouldn’t
  • You won’t
  • You will never
  • That won’t work
  • You must not
  • That’s too risky
  • What are you thinking?

It’s helpful to pay attention to our emotions when we are caught in periods of self-doubt.  The voice of self-doubt becomes louder during times of stress, exhaustion, risk, and as deadlines draw near.

Our best strategy for silencing the voices of negativity is to listen to our cheering section, our fans, our positive partners and our encouragers.  They give us the perspective we need to break free from the hold of self-doubt.

No one makes it alone.

These treasured people remind us of what we have going for us and how far we’ve come.  Sometimes we need them to come along side to give us a good swift kick in the behind to get us back on track.

Take down the voice of self-doubt. Go find your eagles, so you can soar once again.

Who are your positive partners?

Monday Quick Tip ~ Lead Yourself First

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“He that is master of himself will soon be master of others.”

A contemporary paraphrase of the above proverb is, “The person who leads himself or herself will lead others.”  Self-leadership is a must if we are going to lead others.

My leadership has been heavily influenced in this area by one of my mentors, Homer Rice who wrote a book about how our fitness to lead others begins with our ability to lead ourselves.  (See Leadership Fitness: Developing and Reinforcing Successful, Positive Leaders, by Homer Rice)

We lead ourselves in two critical overlapping areas: life management and time management.  Our time is our life.  When we manage our time well, chances are greater that we’re managing our life well.

Life management means that we are able to control our goals, emotions, physical well-being (diet, exercise, and sleep), thought patterns, finances, positive habits and personal growth plans.

Time management means that we can create priorities and get done the things that need to be done in an efficient and effective manner.  We can organize our day and give our energy to the most important matters at hand.

In moments of brutal honesty, I ask myself, “Knowing what I know about myself, would I follow me?”

Have I forfeited my leadership influence because I lack self-discipline?

My answers to those questions guide me to make the necessary changes in self-leadership.

Our credibility as leaders depends on our ability to lead ourselves.  If I show up late, don’t return phone calls and turn in a mediocre performance I’m giving my team members an excuse to do the same.

Lead yourself and you’ll have the credibility to lead others.

What practices do you have in place that ensure good self-leadership?

Live Full to Die Empty

Die-Empty-3dMy Review of Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day by Todd Henry

A disclaimer is in order.  I have been a Todd Henry enthusiast since I read his first book, The Accidental Creative: How to be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice.  His regular podcast is on my weekly “must listen to” list.  I was thrilled when I heard the title and theme of his second book.    I’m what business guru, Ken Blanchard, calls a “raving fan” of Todd’s work.  Admittedly, I’m biased not just because we share the same first name.

Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day is about how we can unleash our best work each day and increase the odds that we won’t regret the work we’ve done when we come to the end of our life.  It’s about living full so we can die empty.

What I Like Most

What I like most about Todd’s writing is his courage.  He doesn’t hesitate to call out the fluffy platitudes that we are fed in too many business and career books.  He doesn’t shy away from saying that success and our best work will require effort and self-discipline.  Those two things go against the grain of our comfort driven culture.  I was practically cheering out loud when he said, “You cannot pursue comfort and greatness at the same time.”

One popular fallacy Todd takes on that resonated with me was, “The Passion Fallacy.”  We are told countless times to just “follow your passion” and the money will follow you.  Besides the obvious impracticality of this advice, (How many of us actually do get paid for playing video games all day?) Todd points out that it is a selfish approach to finding meaningful work.  Eventually the passion dies down and we are left searching for a different obsession.

A better approach is asking, “What value can I add?” instead of “What can I get?”  When we pose the question this way, it correctly reminds us that we are not the center of the world.  We know that when we are the center of our own world, it’s a very small world…after all.

Challenge Accepted!

Another example of Todd’s courage occurs in the chapter titled, “Finding Your Voice,” which tackles discovering our unique expression of value through our life’s journey.  He challenged me when he wrote, “Great work results when you stop doing only what you know you can do and instead begin pursuing what you believe you might be able to do with a little focused effort.”  In the infamous words of television character Barney Stinson (Played by Neil Patrick Harris on How I Met Your Mother), “Challenge accepted!”

Todd’s writing tone is one we would find from a buddy who is sitting across the table having coffee with us.  It’s friend to friend encouraging conversation rather than top down pronouncements.  In addition, his stories are nicely balanced with practical applications and probing questions at the end of every chapter.

This is the type of book I can see myself rereading on a yearly basis to keep myself on track in fulfilling my life’s mission.

The message of the book is simply stated: “Don’t go to your grave with your best work still inside of you. Choose to die empty.”

May that be true for us all.